Tip of the Week
Fall Lawn Care!
A little time spent on your lawn this September will make next year's lawn the envy of the neighborhood!
Your lawn is usually one of the most visible parts of your landscape. With proper care and maintenance, it can be a beautiful asset to your property.
September marks the beginning of the best season for most lawn projects. Whether you are controlling broadleaf weeds, killing grubs, renovating the lawn, or just plain starting all over and planting a whole new lawn, this is the time to do it.
One of the main reasons that September is the best time to plant grass seed is that it gives the new grass two good growing seasons (fall & spring) to become established before the hot, dry summer season. Properly watered and fertilized, your new grass will develop strong, deep roots by the time summer rolls around and it will be able to better withstand the summer heat and drought.
In addition, the warm soil, cooler nights, increased likelihood of rain, and fewer insect and disease related problems combine to make perfect growing conditions for your new grass. Weed competition is generally lower in the fall, too. So there you have it - perfect timing!
Over seeding or partial renovation
Often times a lawn will deteriorate over time but not to the point where you have to totally kill the existing lawn and start over from scratch. The rule of thumb is that if 70% of a lawn needs fixing, then you need a new lawn. If 30% or less is in trouble, it can be patched or restored.
- Get rid of the weeds! The first step to renovating a lawn is to control the weeds. If hand weeding is not an option, use one of the selective broadleaf herbicides such as Bonide Weed Beater, Weed Beater Plus, or Weed Beater Ultra, or Bayer Advanced All-In-One Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer. Always read and follow the label directions!
- Reduce the competition from the existing grass. Once the weeds are gone, begin the renovation by mowing the lawn as low as possible and rake up all the clippings and other debris.
- Dethatch if necessary. If the thatch layer is greater than 1/2 inch, it should be removed. Consider renting a dethatcher or a power rake to make the job easier.
- Aerate the soil. When the soil is compacted, grass doesn't grow well because nutrients, air, and water cannot penetrate the soil and get to the roots. Compacted soils should be loosened by core aeration. This should always be done when the grass is actively growing so the roots have time to recover. A core aerating machine can be rented for the job.
- Amend the soil. It is always a good idea to have your soil tested so you know what soil nutrients are needed and whether you need to add lime. Sometimes a starter fertilizer is recommended for new plantings. Organic fertilizers such as Espoma Organic Lawn Food release nutrients slowly and feed the lawn over a longer period of time. These fertilizers will not burn the grass or leach into the groundwater. Organic fertilizers only need to be applied twice a year; once in the fall and again in the spring.
- Choose high quality grass seed. Quality seed will germinate better and fill in more quickly. Be sure to choose a grass seed mixture that will tolerate the conditions in your yard - sun or shade.
- Seeding. Small areas can be seeded by hand but larger areas can be seeded using a drop spreader. Spread half the seed in one direction and spread the other half at right angles to the first. This will provide a more uniform coverage of the seed.
- Mulch. It is important to keep the seed bed moist until the grass is established. Mulching with a thin layer of straw will help maintain even moisture levels.
- Keep the seed bed watered. Water slowly and gently to avoid runoff and washing of the seed. Keep the seed bed constantly moist throughout the germination period.
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Weed Control in the Lawn - Fall is best!
We have gotten a lot of questions lately about controlling various broadleaf weeds in the lawn. Well, September is a great time to let those broadleaf lawn weeds have it!
Why? In the fall, perennials (including perennial weeds) begin to prepare for winter by moving nutrients and stored starches from their leaves into their roots. Spraying systemic herbicides at this time means that these chemicals also get transported down to the roots more effectively - bye bye weeds! Since the grass is still actively growing, it will quickly fill in the bare spots. Bonide, Bayer Advanced, and Clear Choice make many systemic herbicides that will selectively kill broadleaf weeds in the lawn. Always read and follow the label directions when using herbicides!
Control White Grubs in the Lawn - NOW!
In late August and September, the grubs that damage your grass are small and close to the surface actively feeding on your grass roots. This is the best time to go after them!
Bayer Advanced 24 Hour Grub Killer Plus is very effective for killing the beetle grubs at this stage in their life cycle. Always read and follow the label directions!
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